About FEWW

Playwriting Award

Leah Ryan’s Fund for Emerging Women Writers began giving out its annual prize in 2010 to honor the memory of Leah Ryan, and to encourage and support the work of brilliant and unrecognized women, trans, and non-binary playwrights. It is the purpose of the prize to perpetuate the integrity, compassion, and creativity that Leah herself possessed and inspired in others.

The prize is presented each Spring at the Lilly Awards, an annual evening honoring the work of women in the American Theater. Winners receive a cash award and a New York City showcase of the winning work. As hoped, the prize has been a springboard for winners who have subsequently won other competitions and/or have had full-staged productions of their work. (Read about past winners.)

The  FEWW prize winner will be part of Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater season, enhancing our long standing relationship in a meaningful way. The season annually presents more than 30 plays and musicals by established and emerging artists and is known as a springboard for new works that continue to theaters across the country and around the world. Leah was a Playwriting Apprentice in 1991 and it’s where she met current FEWW board members Ed Cheetham and Jennifer Krasinski. Beginning in 2020 the winning play will be part of the summer season’s Readings series. The play will receive a 29-hour reading and culminate in a public presentation.

The Vladimir Award

Since January 2015, the FEWW has offered The Vladimir Award, a grant for writers facing medical emergencies. At the beginning of her treatment for leukemia and with her characteristic humor, Leah Ryan named her IV pole Vladimir, a nod to the Russian writers she loved. It was Leah’s wish that this emergency fund be created. The Fund works with the Author’s League to administer the grant.

Leah Ryan

Leah Ryan was a playwright, essayist, writer of post-modern greeting cards, and a general woman of letters. Her plays have been performed all over the United States. 

Her play Bleach, a dark comedy about the legacy of the Armenian genocide, received the Maibaum Award for plays dealing with issues of social justice. Ryan taught playwriting, English, and creative writing to a wide variety of students, including those at the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising, where she was a professor in the Arts and Communications department and founder of their Writing Center.

Ms. Ryan also worked with groups of high school and college students at Vassar and New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Theater Training Program where members of the Training Company have performed several of her plays and adaptations. She received a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts for her work with Epic Theatre Centre, creating modern adaptations of classic plays with groups of middle and high school students. 

Ms. Ryan graduated with honors from Smith College as an Ada Comstock Scholar, winning the Denis Johnston prize for excellence in playwriting three times and the Jill Cummins MacLean Prize once. Ms. Ryan went on to earn her Artist Diploma in Playwriting at Juilliard and her MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she won the Distinguished Teaching award and was twice chosen to take part in the annual Iowa Playwrights Festival. 

Her publications include the literary anthology For Here or To Go, and Even More Monologues by Women for Women, essays in The Best of Temp Slave, as well as work in many small magazines. Her play Pigeon was published by Playscripts, Inc. Her short work also appeared in 400 Words, including the debut issue. She was fiction editor and a regular columnist at Punk Planet magazine.

Leah Ryan died of leukemia at the age of 44 on June 12, 2008, in New York City.

Please visit Leah Ryan’s blog here
Or join her Facebook fan page here

View Leah Ryan’s website she was in the process of creating before she passed away here